Saint of Piss (Repost)

Prompt: Sink or Swim

hurricane-rita-3

The most beautiful deep blue, cloudless sky I have ever seen occurred during one of the worst days of my life. It reminded me that terrible things happen in happy sunshine.

In this case, a monster of a hurricane was headed our way, and in the wake of Katrina only a few weeks before, people decided not to hang around for Rita. Don’t go east, the authorities told us, because people were still evacuating west out of Louisiana. Can you imagine?

We had a friend who lived near Dallas, so that was our destination. Very early, while it was still dark, we set out in the truck with a few belongings; most of the bags were full of food and supplies for our dog, who was comfortably ensconced in his crate. The streets of Houston were entirely empty, the morning clear, and even the entrance to the freeway was completely abandoned, and we felt pretty good about this adventure.

It wasn’t quite clear sailing to Dallas. By the time it was light, traffic was heavy. We drove by boarded up homes, and trucks passed us, rigged so the occupants could retreat with as many as their earthly belongings as possible: besides gas cans, there were chairs, mattresses, and all manner of furniture.

By the time the traffic came to a halt it was close to noon, and the temperature was close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This extreme hot weather was part of the storm system, we were told. It would get hotter.

People got out of their vehicles and walked around in the sunshine. Our dog got a nice walk. We moved north, inch by inch.

We talked to local friends and associates by cell phone while we were still in range. We were all keeping tabs on one another— which routes were taken by whom, and what progress was being made. If any.

Rita was relentlessly pushing through the Gulf of Mexico on her way to rip us apart and blow us away, and we were sitting on a paved prison, stuck with thousands of others, running low on water and gasoline. Like most people, we turned our air conditioner off to save fuel. It was 120 degrees out there by now. The route north is flat and treeless and there were no facilities until Spring, a mere 25 miles north of Houston, and still ten miles away, now a seemingly impossible distance.

People did run out of fuel, and we crawled by them. Some of them were crying. The kids were crying. Some of the cars were abandoned. Where did the occupants go? Most of the cars passing by were full to the brim with no room for extra passengers. Where could you walk to, in that heat, with no water?

There was nothing like a police presence, or any government presence. We were, all of us, completely on our own.

Finally, getting low on fuel, we reached Spring, Texas. We were able to pull in to the gas station, like a few others. It was busy. There was no fuel, not at that station or anywhere.

I went inside the little gas station mart to use the bathroom. There was a very long line. The air conditioner was on, which was a relief, but it wasn’t cool because of the constant stream of people in and out, in and out. A woman in front of me in the line was reeling as if she was drunk. She wasn’t drunk, but dehydrated, because she hadn’t been drinking water, because there was nowhere, until now, to pee. She fainted. A lot of people fainted.

After half an hour I got to the front of the line. The toilet was full and unflushable. There was shit and piss everywhere. I did my best, and as I left, warning those in line behind me, a saint appeared with a mop and bucket. It was the cashier, the only employee in the place. She apologized to me for the condition of the bathroom, then went in and, I presumed, cleaned up that horrendous mess so the people in line had a clean place to relieve themselves. She could have left us to it. There was no gain for her in making that one thing bearable for a bunch of strangers. A saint.

We had a decision to make. It had taken us eleven hours to travel the 25 miles to the Spring gas station. It was another 200 miles to Dallas. The day was still blazing hot, bright and sunny, but nightfall was coming. Did we want to get back in the traffic trying to escape north, and risk running out of fuel? Could we spend the night —or longer— at the side of the road? Would we be safe when the hurricane struck? Would we be safe at all?

One of the great ironies of that day was that of the four lanes of the highway to Dallas, two were gloriously clear. No one was driving south to Houston. The two lanes driving north, stinking of wasted fuel, were bumper to bumper.

We decided to go home and weather the storm. We had just enough gas. We got back to Houston, flying down the empty highway, in half an hour.


  • Originally published January 17, 2016
  • Today’s Prompt: Triumph

Or a Catastrophe and Day 11

Prompt: Or

dog-sweet-eyes

Today, as I was taking a break from NaNoWriMo,  I asked my dog, “Is what happened in the US election a disaster, or a catastrophe?”

He looked back at me with his puddly brown eyes. They said, “What election? I feel fine. Why do you look unhappy? Can I have a treat, or a scratch behind the ears? I love you. When’s dinner?”

Why doesn’t everyone have a dog?

Something Something and Day 9

Prompt: Primp


It is Day 9 of National Novel Writing Month, and the Daily Post prompt for this day is the word primp. Primp is not the word of the day, or the thought of the day, however. There simply are no words or adequate thoughts. Instead, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons:

cartoon-trump-paul-noth


cartoon-trump-david-rowe


cartoon-trump-election-lisa-benson

Deep breaths,

~~FP

What Would Marcus Do

Prompt: Luxury

tropical-cocktail-elena-elisseeva

Virginia had stopped mentioning it, but Cash knew she would respect him a lot more if he earned money, instead of spending it. Most of it was his own money, to be sure, but Virginia was old-fashioned that way. She believed in tired old male stereotypes, Cash thought, even though she declared herself a feminist.

So he decided to start a luxury private cruise business. He was good at boats, as long as they were crewed, good at luxury, and liked cruising. What could go wrong?

He wished with all his heart that his friend, Marcus, was not in prison for trying to murder his wife, Cash’s sister, because Marcus would be very good at organizing something like this, and would be a lot of fun to work with too. But no, Marcus was despicable, right? Almost killing Cash’s sister in a fire that he set. He claimed innocence, but no one believed him. Cash wanted to believe him, but then, he was Marcus. Marcus always had a thing about limits.

The very first cruise set sail on a brilliantly sunny, still morning, in Cash’s father’s 76 foot Alpha Express, with crew (cook and two boat hands) and eight guests. Cash knew most of the guests, and had given everyone a discount rate for this, the first official luxury charter cruise of the “Lily Pad”.

When the trouble started, Cash thought, “What would Marcus do?” and promptly fired a boat hand for stealing drinks, flirting with Mr Jessop’s girlfriend, and stealing tissue-wrapped luxury soaps from the women’s washroom. Firing someone at sea is rarely a good move. The other boat hand withdrew his services in protest, and since he had also been drinking heavily. Cash regretted not hiring his father’s usual crew. These guys were friends of friends, and agreed to a cut in pay for the maiden voyage. Would he still have to pay them? What would Marcus do?

Then Mr Jessop’s girlfriend went a shade of green and broke out in hives. The cook had forgotten she was allergic to shellfish. Cash fired the cook. They would need to return to port immediately.

Most of the guests, cocktails in hand, departed the “Lily Pad” without negative comments. Mr Jessop was livid, however, and demanded not only a comped cruise but a voucher for future cruises. Cash wondered: if the experience was so bad, why would he want another one? But he hand-wrote a voucher anyway, planning to never honour it as he couldn’t see himself continuing in this line of work without a partner.

Mr Jessop’s girlfriend was a woman named Diane Crosby. She was a college student, studying law, who lost her scholarship, and so was accompanying men like Mr Jessop on luxury cruises and what-not. She was used to people forgetting her name, or asking her to put her bikini on, or standing far too close, or ignoring her completely. She was almost relieved about the food poisoning, although it was the sickest she had ever been. She really, really did not like Mr Jessop, nor any of his friends, and certainly not that young asshole who was in everyone’s face, pushing drinks.

A hospital bed and an IV seemed preferable, to Diane Crosby.

Slow Motion

Prompt: Disaster

Carton of eggs. one dozen

He was in the supermarket when it happened. It was early in the morning, and the market had just opened its doors. He only needed bread and eggs, which he could store in the fridge at work until the end of his shift. He wanted to get home right away after work and make things right. He waved to Mrs Smithers, his neighbour, who was cheerfully pushing a trolley filled with toilet tissue. Only yesterday she had brought him a jar of her apricot jelly. It was usually just a little too sweet, he thought, but it was such a kind gesture.

First, he noticed a rumbling, as if a subway train was running underground directly beneath him; but there was no train, no subway. The structure– the floors and walls– then actually quivered, violently, and Damien lost his footing. Someone screamed. It sounded like the young cashier, Denise.

The floor was liquid beneath his feet. Cereals, cans of fruit, cases of soft drinks flew off the shelves: they flew as if there was no gravity, careening across aisles and thudding into the store manager, who was trying to run outside. Lights and generators shut off.

He frantically reached for his phone. There was a loud crash and then Mrs Smithers smashed into him, knocking the phone out of his hand. She had blood running out of her nose.

In slow motion he crawled on his hands and knees, as plaster and chunks of wallboard rained upon his shoulders. Something sharp lodged in the back of his neck. He felt the wetness on his back, but no pain.

Somehow he reached the phone and punched in the number.

He smelled smoke, heard someone praying, and the roof over the produce section collapsed, trapping a man and his teenage son, who only a few minutes ago had been arguing; something to do with a car.

He couldn’t see anything any more, and felt suddenly, terribly, weak, but he got through! He heard the voice on the other end of the line. “I love you,” he said, as loudly as he could, and then collapsed into the broken glass and rubble.

Disaster averted.

 


  • Image by Corbis